Science News brings word of a recent PNAS report on gut bacteria and allergies. In the study, researchers gave a group of mice antibiotics to wipe out their gut microbiome. Feeding the mice peanuts after this treatment seemed to induce allergy-like responses, that weren’t observed in mice who didn’t receive the treatment. The researchers gave the mice Clostridia bacteria to replenish the microbiome, and the response diminished.
Cathryn Nagler of the University of Chicago and colleagues treated some mice with antibiotics to wipe out the animals’ gut bacteria, and then triggered an allergy-like response to peanut particles. Peanuts revved up the germ-free animals’ immune systems — but mice with normal gut bacteria didn’t have the bad reaction.
Giving germ-free mice a dose of Clostridia bacteria made the animals more like their counterparts with normal gut flora. The microbes encourage mouse cells to make mucus that helps seal up the intestines, keeping food particles from slipping into the bloodstream and riling up the immune system, the researchers found.
The researchers suggest that this might also hold true for humans.